On May 12, the Municipalité régionale du comté (MRC) d’Argenteuil and partner organization launched a regional effort to welcome Ukrainians fleeing war in their home country.
MRC d’Argenteuil Prefect Scott Pearce invited the population of the region to contribute to the collective and humanitarian effort by mobilizing for the reception of Ukrainians.
Saint-Jérôme-based Le COFFRET, an organization which helps refugees settle in the Laurentides region of Québec, is one of the partner organizations. However, Ukrainians coming to Canada do not meet the legal definition of refugees under the law.
“Unfortunately, Ukrainians are not considered refugees,” said Le COFFRET Director-General Line Chaloux.
Many Ukrainians have fled their home country to neighbouring Poland or other countries and are temporarily residing there before travelling further to places like Canada.
“It’s very difficult to organize the arrival of Ukrainians,” Chaloux said.
According to Chaloux, Ukrainians coming to Canada are treated similar to tourists, but they may apply for work visas, then permanent residency, and then citizenship.
Chaloux explained Le COFFRET will help integrate Ukrainians into community life, and to obtain government identification and other services.
As of Monday, May 9, 34 Ukrainians had resettled in the MRC’s of Argenteuil, Pays d’en Haut, Rivière du Nord, and the city of Mirabel.
In addition to the Ukrainian language, most Ukrainians also speak Russian. Chaloux said the language-assistance needs of people settling in the Laurentides depends on the individual and any other languages they speak.
The Séminaire du Sacré-Cœur private, Catholic secondary school in Grenville-sur-la-Rouge is using its former residence space to house Ukrainians. According to Director-General Christian Lavergne, three people from Ukraine are already residing in the residence and five more people are to arrive by the end of May.
“It’s a great help for Ukraine,” said Anastasiia Lavrynets, the International Programs Coordinator at Séminaire du Sacré-Cœur, who is also Ukrainian.
One Argenteuil municipality has also offered to support Ukrainians. According to St-André-d’Argenteuil Mayor Stephen Matthews, the municipality will provide a municipally-owned house for individuals to live in rent-free and will arrange for their employment, if necessary. The municipality will also set summer day camp spaces aside for Ukrainian children.
Complete information on donations and services is available at www.argenteuil.qc.ca/ukraine . Monetary donations should be made through Le COFFRET at https://www.lecoffret.org/ . Official tax receipts can be issued.
To offer accommodation for Ukrainians in Argenteuil, email [email protected] or call 450-562-2474, ext. 2362.
Ressourcerie/Recypro is collecting donations of furniture, clothing, and toys. Donations are accepted during business hours at 525, rue Principale in Lachute.
Non-perishable food donations for Ukrainians are being collected by the Centre d’Entraide d’Argenteuil. Items with long expiry dates are preferred. Donations may be taken to 171 rue Mary in Lachute during business hours.
Offers of interpreter and translation services to assist Ukrainians who do not speak French or English are being accepted. People with Ukrainian language skills who are interested in assisting should email [email protected] or call 450-562-2474, ext. 2362.
Other partners in the effort to assist Ukrainians settling in Argenteuil include Ressourcerie/Recypro which has agreed to offer gift cards, the Residence Médaillon d’Or will offer, for a period of one year, accommodation, meals and a job opportunity to a family, and Autobus Campeau will offer transportation services. The Lions Club, Club Richelieu, Caisse Desjardins and the MRC d’Argenteuil are also committed to providing financial contributions to community initiatives.